by Robert Romano
“If the House ever musters the courage to stand behind their slapdash work product and transmit their impeachment to the Senate, it will be time for the United States Senate to fulfill our founding purpose. [But] [w]e can’t hold a trial without the articles. The Senate’s own rules don’t provide for that. So, for now, we are content to continue the ordinary business of the Senate while House Democrats continue to flounder. For now.”
That was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Twitter, noting that under Senate rules governing impeachment trials — for now — the trial of President Donald Trump cannot begin in the Senate until the House formally submits the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate.
And so far, the House has delayed doing so. Why?
Perhaps it has suddenly dawned on House Democrats that they don’t possess and never have had the votes in the U.S. Senate to convict and remove President Donald Trump from office, as a Senate trial and likely acquittal looms, and so they want to delay the trial for as long as possible.
That is certainly why impeaching Trump in a futile gesture doomed to failure in an election year was almost certainly a bad idea politically for Democrats. It makes the party look desperate to remove Trump from office because they don’t think they can win at the ballot box, turning off swing voters and ironically bolstering the President’s already high odds of being reelected in November.
Because, without any chance of Trump being removed, the only rationale for impeaching him was to hurt his chances in 2020. But if impeachment has now had the opposite effect, and instead made Trump more electable, then that makes Pelosi’s gambit one of the greatest political blunders in American history.
The die has been cast.
Already, impeachment has sucked the oxygen out of the Democratic primary for President. Instead of thinking about alternatives to Trump, voters are getting a daily reminder of why Trump is likely to remain in office.
And Trump’s durability may only add to his impervious appearance. Hillary Clinton failed to defeat him in 2016, and then the Justice Department and Special Counsel Robert Mueller failed after Trump was sworn in, and this will fail too. It just makes Trump look strong. Again.
Finally, failing to have Trump removed could in fact dispirit the very Democratic voters this election season who impeachment sought to activate.
Again, with hindsight, the contingent of Democrats who thought impeachment was dumb might feel the opportunity to defeat Trump electorally was squandered by the House acting rashly to remove him in the first place. Maybe they stay home, or enough of them do to make a difference in key states.
Watch for the finger-pointing to begin early in the cycle.
Now, there is the question of former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s potential testimony before the Senate. After telling the House via his lawyers he would fight any subpoena in court, now Bolton is signaling he would testify in the Senate if subpoenaed.
One presumes Bolton wishes to testify that President Trump was seeking to leverage military assistance to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into the Bidens and Burisma, the corrupt natural gas firm Ukrainian prosecutors were looking at until Biden had one of the lead prosecutors fired in 2016. Or maybe not.
Either way, Pelosi is wagering she can pressure the Senate to subpoena Bolton in some sort of pre-trial agreement.
But take that with grain of salt.
Someone should ask Bolton why he thinks this President lacks authority to do something every President has had the power to do, which is determining when U.S. arms are to be deployed along any warfront, including the civil war in Ukraine.
Bolton thinks Presidents can terminate treaties on a whim under Article II of the Constitution, but takes issue with the President contemplating a temporary hold on military assistance to a non-treaty partner like Ukraine while seeing if they’re too corrupt to deal with because of prior dealings with the party’s likely nominee, Biden.
In the meantime, it is unclear what Bolton’s testimony might even add, Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning stated, noting the aid was ultimately delivered, rendering any legal objection to Trump’s conduct moot.
“It doesn’t matter what actions were considered or even the motivations behind the hold since the decision was made to deliver the military aid before Sept. 30 and there were no actions required by the Ukraine government to secure the release of those funds,” Manning said.
That’s right. The military assistance was ultimately released, so who cares what the President might have been thinking at the time?
Kind of like that time President Trump was thinking about firing former Special Counsel Robert Mueller but never did. Then, Democrats wanted to call a non-action obstruction of justice but it amounted to little more than a thought crime.
Here, once again, Democrats seek to remove Trump from office, not for real crimes, but imagined ones.
But they don’t actually want to get on with the trial, making them seem all the more detached from reality as the presidential primaries rapidly approach. As if their own contradictory allegations have confused them into submission.
But their hesitation is more than apparent to voters.
Do they want to remove Trump now, or leave it up to voters in November?
The House already voted to impeach and is therefore in no position to dictate the terms for the trial. All the testimony delivered, scores of hours available, ought to suffice.
The House could have fought for Bolton’s testimony but dropped its federal court case. It could have waited. It went straight to the Senate, so let’s get on with it.
Of course, the Senate could just change its own rules and begin the trial whether the House is ready or not, something McConnell appears to hint at. He knows the rules can be changed.
“We have the votes… Fifty-one senators determine what we do…” McConnell told reporters, saying that a trial will start as soon as the Senate’s ready.
The Articles of Impeachment do not even cite a criminal code violation, lending credence to Republican calls for a swift dismissal.
I’d give them until Friday. After that, if no articles are produced, just download them and vote to dismiss, Mr. Majority Leader.
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